Pasta alla Boscaiola might sound fancy, but trust me, it’s a down-to-earth, hearty meal you’ll want to dive into. It features delicious Italian sausage, earthy mushrooms, and fresh rosemary. An authentic dish perfect as a pick-me-up meal!
Pasta alla Boscaiola is said to have originated in Tuscany, Italy. Specifically, in the forests of the region. Boscaiola is an Italian term that refers to a style of condiment or a particular dish. The word boscaiolo translates to woodman or woodcutter in English.
In Italy, any dish that includes the term boscaiola will undoubtedly include mushrooms and herbs that can be easily found in the forest. They can be featured in any dish, from meats like chicken, beef, or even rabbit, to pasta, salads, and appetizers.
So, today I am sharing with you one of my favorite recipes. Pasta alla Boscaiola, which it’s particularly popular during autumn and winter because of its richness. However, it can work year-round for lunches or dinners any day of the week.
- Pasta: You can use any pasta shape or noodle you have at hand and the result will be delicious. That said, penne, pennette, and egg tagliatelle are my top 3 for this dish.
- Mushrooms: Since this is a versatile dish, you can use any mushroom you like. I recommend chanterelle, Italian porcini mushroom, champignons, or a mix of all three.
- Passata: For the boscaiola sauce you’ll need smooth tomato passata, or substitute with your preferred tomato sauce.
- Italian sausage: Now we’re getting into one of the most flavorful ingredients. There are many Italian sausage options to consider and the flavor profiles will vary. I recommend Italian pork sausage for an authentic recipe.
- Pancetta: Also known as thick-cut bacon, this ingredient will add saltiness and smokiness to the dish. It will also add some chewiness because it will be diced, adding a little extra texture.
- White onion: This is another ingredient that will add extra texture, not to mention some sweet and tangy flavor. It’s a must!
- Extra virgin olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is not as processed as other olive oils, so it adds a more intense grassy and peppery flavor to the pasta alla boscaiola.
- Garlic: In the traditional recipe, garlic is added whole and then removed, just to bring a little flavor and aroma. However, if you prefer an intense flavor, add it minced.
- Fresh parsley: Fresh parsley is known for its clean and slightly earthy taste. It will add some green to the dish and also make it more aromatic.
- Salt and pepper: Of course, we can’t forget about salt and pepper! The salt will enhance all the flavors while the pepper will add a bit of heat.
How to Make Pasta alla Boscaiola
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for half a minute to release its flavor and aroma. Remove garlic from the pan.
Add onion and cook for 1 minute, then add the Italian sausage and pancetta. Cook everything, breaking the sausage with the back of a spoon, for 3 minutes or until the sausage is slightly browned and cooked through.
Mix in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes just to get the flavors combined.
Add the tomato sauce and the sprig of rosemary, then add a little bit of water too. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and keep cooking until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
Cook your pasta in plenty of salted water according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the boscaiola sauce.
Turn on the heat to the highest and toss the pasta for 20-30 seconds until nicely coated with the sauce. If necessary, add a little bit of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce.
Serve with a sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano and chopped parsley.
Tips & Recipe Notes
- There are two traditional ways of making pasta alla boscaiola here in Italy. One will include tomato sauce and the other not, which is known as “boscaiola in bianco”. If you want to try it, just omit the tomato passata and use the pasta cooking water to create a light and creamy sauce that will go perfectly, especially with fresh homemade pasta.
- The sauce doesn’t need lots of time to cook. Mushrooms cook fast, so you can prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking in the pot, normally this will take from 12 to 14 minutes depending on the brand and type of pasta you use.
What to Serve With Boscaiola Pasta
This simple, yet fulfilling pasta dish is perfect to serve as a main meal for lunch or dinner. However, if you want to serve some sides, you can accompany with garlic buttery bread, or make it a starter for a main dish like veal roast.
If you prefer a light side, a fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette can serve as a refreshing contrast to the richness of the pasta.
Usually, I don’t like reheated pasta, unless is a baked dish. But that doesn’t mean I throw away leftovers, no way! So, if you want to store it, just allow the pasta alla boscaiola to reach room temperature then transfer the leftovers to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Or you can also make the boscaiola sauce ahead and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw, reheat in a saucepan, and then toss with freshly cooked pasta.
More Pasta Recipes
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Pasta alla Boscaiola
- 12 oz pasta (penne, rottini, or egg tagliatelle)
- 12 oz mixed mushrooms (porcini, champignon, chanterelles, etc.)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 small Italian sausages
- ¼ cup pancetta or bacon (diced)
- 1 small white onion (chopped)
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (skin-on and slightly crushed)
- 1 sprig rosemary
- fresh parsley (for serving)
- parmigiano-reggiano (for serving)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for half a minute. Remove garlic from the pan.
- Add onion, Italian sausage, and pancetta. Cook everything, breaking the sausage with the back of a spoon, for 3 minutes or until the sausage is slightly browned and cooked through.
- Mix in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce, the sprig of rosemary, and ½ cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
- Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and keep cooking until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
- Cook your pasta in plenty of salted water according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the boscaiola sauce.
- Turn on the heat to the highest, and toss the pasta for 20-30 seconds until nicely coated with the sauce. If necessary, add a little bit of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce.
- Serve with a sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano and chopped parsley.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.